Planned MN frac sand mine draws complaints

People filled a Shakopee hearing room Thursday night to voice their opinion on air quality near a planned frac sand mining operation.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency held the meeting to give residents a chance to comment on a draft air emissions permit for Great Plains Sands. The company wants to mine silica sand in the southern Twin Cities area, along Highway 169.

The sand would be shipped for use in the extraction of oil and natural gas. Some operations at the facility would run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The operation will produce silica sand; silica dust is known to cause lung diseases.

MPCA spokesman Ralph Pribble said this is the first frac sand mine state officials know of that's planning to monitor airborne particulates at a distance from the mine.

"That's a very critical step toward filling an information gap that we know exists in regard to finding out what exactly the contribution of sand mines is to particulate matter in ambient air away from the sites," Pribble said.

Jordan resident Tom Boncher said Great Plains Sands and other nearby frac sand operations will be a disaster for the local environment. He's resigned but still thinks it's important for him to come to public meetings.

"If I don't make statements when the opportunities arise, then I have no right to complain afterwards," Boncher said.

Some nearby residents worry silica dust will escape from trucks coming out of the Great Plains facility. Officials at the company say those trucks will be covered.

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